How to Pick Out a Down Comforter

White down comforter ruffled on bed with potted plant in the corner

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

A cuddly down comforter is not just for people living in Alaska. Down bedding products are available in a variety of weights, qualities, colors, and sizes for a cool sleep or one that will warm you from the chilliest of night winds. Because down is so lightweight, it's one of the most comfortable and sought-after fills for a blanket or comforter. Before you shop for a blanket, get some basic information from our comprehensive guidelines below on buying a down comforter for your bed.

Before You Buy a Down Comforter

So it's time to replace your down comforter. You have realized that the old one has gotten lumpy, the outside has pilling and rips on it, and it just isn't that snuggly and comfy anymore. Or maybe you don't have one and are just starting to set up a new place. Either way, purchasing a new down comforter will give you a warm, comfortable cover for your bed helping get you a good night's sleep.

Have no fear, as there are a lot of options available in down comforters, and now you need to figure out how to pick the one that is best for you.

Buying Considerations for a Down Comforter

How Warm Do You Sleep?

Some people sleep with layers and layers of blankets or with the electric blanket turned up high. Others are comfortable with just a light layer covering them, even in the coldest weather. Since down blankets and comforters come in a wide variety of weights and fill, you'll want to have an idea of what will give you the most comfortable sleep. Don't buy a heavy comforter if you live in the tropics!

Bed Size

Don't assume that you'll find a down comforter that fits your bed perfectly. Take careful measurements and look for the blanket that will most closely match your bed. If you have a Queen bed, don't get shortchanged with a "full/queen" quilt. If you have a California King bed, a "king" comforter may not be long enough. Keep in mind that you'll want some of the comforter or blanket to drop down the sides of the bed, so don't buy one that is too small.

Fill Power

Pacific Coast Feather Company says, "Fill power is a term used to describe the quality of down. The higher the fill power, the larger and stronger the clusters of down. Large clusters provide superior insulation, breathe better and last much longer than smaller, fragile down clusters." So in order to get the proper warmth for your needs, compare the "fill power" that different manufacturers offer. There's no point in buying more than you need, but you don't want too little either.

Budget and Quality

The most expensive down blankets and comforters are made of pure, white, hypoallergenic goose down. If you're on a limited budget, you might find a down blanket with a lower grade of down, with less down, or with a combination of down and feathers. While these give a very comfortable sleep, you might feel that this is the time to stretch your budget and make a good investment. Look for special sales to get the one you really want.

Baffles

While simple quilts are made by sewing a filler between two layers of fabric, down blankets and comforters are made with long channels or a sewn-through box design which helps keep the down in place for even distribution. Strips of fabric are actually sewn between the layers of fabric. These keep the clusters of down from shifting. With baffles sewn in, there won't be any "cold spots" in your down comforter.

Outer Fabric Thread Count

Even though down comforters seem soft and fluffy, they are able to leak through any fabric that holds them. It's important to buy a cover with a high thread count, tightly woven, providing leakproof coverage. Then you won't have to worry that the down or feathers will sneak out. Many companies take special care to seal in the edges, too.

To Cover or Not to Cover?

A comforter without a cover is called a "duvet." In order to take good care of a new down comforter or blanket, we recommend that you use a "duvet cover," a large "pillowcase" that covers the large blanket. A cover will add some weight, and a decorative cover could add a lot of weight. But a duvet cover will protect the down blanket or comforter, and a cover is easier to clean than a large comforter.

Types of Down Comforters

Goose Down

Goose down is the highest quality and most desirable when it comes to a down comforter. The reason is that goose down clusters are larger, due to the larger size of the bird, offering a softer more pillowy effect. A goose down comforter also tends to be the warmer one, albeit the most expensive.

Duck Down

Duck down has smaller clusters than goose down due to the smaller size of the bird but still provides a nice comfy and insulated comforter. Some people seem to be a bit sensitive to duck down and say it has an odor, while others have no issue with it.

Down and Feathers

Like the type states, a down and feathers comforter is just that—the filling consists of both down and feathers. This type of down comforter is a bit more affordable, and the softness can be likened to a feather-filled pillow.

Cost

Down comforters with down filling run between $90 to $900, depending on the quality, fill power, and size needed. Remember that these comforters should last around ten to 15 years, or even as long as 20 years if cared for properly. Plan to include in the budget a cover to put over it to protect the comforter from sweat and soiling. These covers will add an additional cost of around $30 to $100 or more.

If you can wait to purchase one, then plan to watch out for special sales around the holidays, such as Labor Day and Memorial Day, and check out the big white sale, the annual sale of towels and bedding, held by stores in late January, to get the down comforter you covet.

How to Choose a Down Comforter

There is a multitude of choices available when it comes to selecting a down comforter, so there's certainly one out there that will fit your needs. Start figuring out the right one for you by asking these questions:

How Will You Use Your Down Comforter?

Determine how you're planning to use your down comforter. Will you use it year-round? Or will it be used only in the cooler fall and winter months? Figuring this out can help decide the heaviness and weight you might want for your down comforter.

Who Will Use the Down Comforter the Most?

If the down comforter is for you alone, then the decision factor gets a bit easier. But if it's for a couple who are sharing a bed together, then both should be in on figuring out what will work best. Or if it's for one of your kids, include them in helping select one for their bed.

What Does the Other Bedding and Bedroom Look Like?

Coordinating the color for the duvet cover with the sheets and blanket you have for the bed, along with the other colors you have in the bedroom should be considered, too. Selecting a solid neutral color that accents another color in the room is a thought, but you could also offset with a bold or brightly patterned cover.

Where to Buy a Down Comforter

Down comforters are available in home stores, supercenters, department stores, and online retailers. Where you buy a down comforter is your choice. Some people like to see comforters in person since it is an item that is an essential part of the bedding. Seeing one this way is helpful, as you're able to touch it and feel the weight and softness before purchasing. While other people, just don't have the time to go into the stores or prefer to shop online. If you're looking online, take a moment to read the reviews and look at the details and specifications. Whatever buying option you choose, ensure you know the return policy and delivery date (if applicable) when you buy your new down comforter.

FAQ
  • How long will a down comforter last?

    A quality down comforter can last from 10 years up to as long as 20 years, depending on the care it has been given. If the filling starts to come out, or it is not fluffy anymore, it's time to consider replacing the comforter.

  • How much fill power should I get in a lightweight down comforter?

    For a lightweight down comforter that is great for those warmer summer days, look for a fill power of 400 or below. If you want a down comforter that can work all year-round, the fill power should be around 400 to 600.

  • Down vs. down alternative comforter

    The difference between a down comforter and a down alternative comforter is quite simply the fill. Down comforters have the down from geese or ducks for the filling, while down alternative comforters have cotton or a polyester/synthetic fill.

Watch Now: This Climate-Controlled Bed Also Makes Itself